Almondell and Calderwood Country Park

(Almondell and Calder Wood Country Park)

Almondell and Calderwood Country Park
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Almondell and Calderwood Country Park

Almondell and Calderwood Country Park is located between Mid Calder and East Calder, 2 miles (3 km) east northeast of the centre of Livingston. It was designated as West Lothian's first Country Park in 1969. Formed from two adjoining former country estates, the park extends along the banks of the River Almond, and its tributaries the Linhouse and Murieston Waters. The park offers riverside and woodland walks, a children's play area, picnic areas with seating and barbecue facilities, together with a visitor centre and a ranger service which runs public events, guided walks and school visits. The Route 75 cycleway runs through the park.

The Almondell Estate extended to 39 ha (97 acres) and was the country home Henry Erskine (1746 - 1817) who served as Lord Advocate. Once the property of the Lords Torphichen, Calderwood Estate extended to 53 ha (130 acres). The Visitor Centre opened in 1981 and includes information displays, café, shop, aquarium, classroom and function room. It occupies the stable block (c.1790) of Almondell House, which was designed by Erskine himself in 1786 in the style of an Italianate villa but demolished in 1969 having been gutted by fire in the 1950s. Calderwood is a natural woodland, designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which occupies a plateau between the Linhouse Water and Murieston Water. The park, and particularly Calderwood SSSI, is a noted as a haven for wildlife with roe deer, fox, heron, otter and woodpecker all make their home here. The many oak and hazel trees provide food and shelter for the wood mice and squirrels. The park also includes some notable bridges, such as the Nasmyth Bridge (c.1800), the Almondell Aqueduct (1820) and the Camps Viaduct (1885), together with the Oakbank Bing associated with the former Oakbank Oil Works which closed in the 1930s. Shale was extracted from pits at Mid Calder at the northern end of the Calderwood section of the park.

In front of the Visitor Centre is the Earl of Buchan's Astronomical Pillar, 1776, rescued from another Erskine home - Kirkhill House in Broxburn. This comprises a square ashlar tower, incised with Latin inscriptions and astronomical equations, surmounted by a bell-tower and cross.

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